In interviews leading up to 300: Rise of an Empire (review here), Lena Headey—who, with Eva Green, was the best, or maybe only truly good, part of that movie—had some things to say about how TV’s provided something of a renaissance for strong female characters. One of those, of course, is Cersei Lannister, and Headey also spoke about a certain pivotal scene for her Game of Thrones character. Spoiler-free hint for book readers: Take a walk.
(The bottom of this post has unmarked spoilers for Game of Thrones–I’ll warn you when to skedaddle if you’re avoiding them.)
“I think there’s a sort of renaissance for women right now,” said Headey to Blastr,
“and you’re not shelved anymore because you’re of a certain age. It’s like women are now being allowed to be written as interesting characters… I think the TV world is kind of leading it as well, you know. All these great shows with incredibly fascinating female characters who were in positions of strength and leading storylines and holding stories. I feel like people are ‘Oh, women are interesting and can be f–king nuts and can be crazy and ugly and mean and all the things that men have been celebrated as being.’ It’s now becoming allowed for us, which is a f–king relief, because who wants to be the pretty lady sitting on a sofa, you know what I mean? It’s awesome.”
“Who wants to be the pretty lady sitting on a sofa” is a sentiment echoed, albeit in a less optimistic way, by Olivia Wilde when she talked about how a genderswapped table read made all the male actors bored by their underdeveloped, supporting female parts. Headey certainly plays her share of well-developed female characters, oftentimes in genre film and TV, though that’s by no means intentional. “I didn’t have a great plan or anything like that” when it comes to becoming a reigning Queen of sci-fi/fantasy, she says. “It’s just that he characters have interested me more. And I don’t necessarily think of them sitting in a genre, because I think then that would dictate how you play them. I just think they’re human beings, and they’re contemporary beings, no matter if it’s 700 years ago. We still have the same emotions, so it’s just part of what you do. I’m kind of led by what I’m interested by and what I think would be exciting to take part in.”
Headey’s most well-known character, at least currently, is of course Game of Thrones‘ Cersei Lannister. Love her, hate her, or something in between, she’s absolutely a an interesting, well-developed character. And we’ve yet to see one of her most pivotal scenes.
MAJOR SPOILERS FOR A DANCE WITH DRAGONS AND (PROBABLY) SEASON FIVE OF GAME OF THRONES BELOW. SCROLL PAST THE LINE OF JUDGEY CERSEIS TO SEE.
That would be “Penance Walk,” which takes place after her various political schemes and sexual affairs (pretty much the same thing, when it’s Cersei) are discovered. It involves her being shaved, stripped, and forced to walk across King’s Landing as penance for her sins. (Or “sins,” in the case of the sex, because men can do the do with all manner of women in Westeros without it being a big deal.) Given the show’s love of sexposition, I’ve been a bit worried about how the show might handle the scene, because while it’s nudity, it’s absolutely not sexualized in any way. It’s Cersei at her lowest point.
Here’s what Headey had to say about the scene, which she speculates will take place in season five, to Blastr:
”We [Headey and showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss] talk about it a lot because I love her… I think, you know, it’s interesting, that part for me. I’ve been very adamant about keeping her kind of clothed because I think that’s part of her power. And she can still be sort of sexual and weird and female, but she doesn’t have to be naked. And I think it makes for a more shocking disempowering moment when this happens. So, we’ll see. I’m a little scared.”
Me too. Don’t screw it up, Dan and David…